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Graduate Program Degree Requirements - Requirements for the Master of Science Degree

Course requirements

A minimum of 30 units of graduate credit are required for the M.S. degree.  A minimum of 20 units of course work (400 level or greater) is required, and of this, at least 12 credits must be derived from courses designated 500 level or above. Thesis credits do not count toward course credit requirements. Prerequisite course work below the 400 level may not be included as part of the core curriculum of the graduate program.  The course work for the Master’s program will be selected by the student and the advisor during the first semester of study, subject to approval by the graduate committee. No fewer than 6 credits  and no more than 10 credits of the 30 total credits required for an M.S. degree may be thesis credits.

Credit hour considerations for Graduate Assistants

Students getting paid by the university as a graduate assistant must be registered for at least 6 credits for fall and spring, and if they are paid in the summer they need to be registered for at least 1 credit.  Master’s students in their final semester can register for 1 thesis credit, however, this reduced credit load can be used only once during their tenure while on an assistantship.  For example, if an assistantship-supported student anticipates graduating in December he/she can register for only 1 thesis credit in the fall, but if the student does not complete requirements in time for December graduation, then he/she will be required to register for 6 credits in the semester that they graduate, regardless of whether or not they are supported by an assistantship during that semester.  In this example, the student who missed the December graduation deadlines  would graduate in the Spring and be required to pay for 6 credits in the Spring, because they already took advantage of the “1 credit graduation semester” exception.   If the student no longer is supported by an assistantship and is not a Maine resident, the charge for the 6 credits will be assessed at the out-of-state rate.

Graduate Committee Composition

The committee will consist of three or more graduate faculty members, including one from outside the Department, and at least two from the Department.

Thesis Requirement

The preparation of an original thesis is required for all candidates.  The candidate is encouraged to prepare the thesis in the form of one or more papers suitable for publication in a major refereed journal, as opposed to the traditional thesis format.  If the traditional format is followed, the candidate will additionally be required to prepare a manuscript for publication that will be reviewed and approved by the advisor.  Format requirements (title page, abstract, margins, etc.) for the thesis have been established by the Graduate School.

Final Oral Examination

Upon completion of course work and thesis, a candidate for the M.S. degree is required to defend the thesis during an oral examination.  In addition, the candidate will be examined at this time for general knowledge in the field of wildlife ecology..  The final oral examination may not be scheduled until all committee members have read a draft of the thesis and signed the Tentative Thesis Acceptance form.  A draft of the thesis must be approved by the advisor before it is distributed to the committee.  To facilitate meaningful reading of the thesis, an approved draft of the thesis must be to the committee at least six weeks prior to the date the thesis is due to the Graduate School.   Additional time prior to the defense may be necessary if significant revisions of the thesis are required by the committee.  Notification of the examination must be circulated to each wildlife ecology faculty member one week before the examination.  A copy of the thesis also must be made available in the Department office for review.  As part of the examination, a seminar on the research for the dissertation must be presented to the Department, usually before the oral defense.


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